How To Write A Nonfiction Book

how to write a nonfiction bookDo you want to write a book, but don’t know where to begin? The process doesn’t have to be hard. Here are my thoughts on how to write a nonfiction book.

Pick a topic

Some people want to write a book, but have no idea what to write about. Or they have a concept, but all their ideas don’t quite fit and the words just don’t flow. The first step is to pick a subject you have a specialized knowledge about.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself to get started:

  • What is something you know about that others don’t?
  • What really interests you?
  • What could you write about that would help your business?

It’s important to pick a subject that will capture your readers’ attention and hold it. You can select a target niche market, but you will need to make sure your book will appeal to those people.

One day, about a year ago, a lady called and asked if I would help to write her memoirs. After speaking to her I determined that her life story would not make a good book. Not everyone’s does. However, she had a wonderful niche market, a side business that was flourishing. I advised her to start working on a nonfiction ebook about that.

Determine the problems your reader needs to solve

Your readers will pick up your book because he or she wants to solve a problem or get answers to questions plaguing them. Figure out what these issues are so that you can help them.

The first step will be to determine who your reader is. “Everyone” is not a good answer. It’s way too general.

In the case of Chess Is Child’s Play – Teaching Techniques That Work, we determined that our primary reader would be parents who do not play chess. Yes, the book is applicable to grandparents and educators, as well as well-established chess coaches, but they aren’t our target reader.

With Joshua’s Missing Peace, the target market was parents of children who are having a medical crisis. Of course, I want all parents to read our book, but realistically parents of children in similar situations to Joshua’s would be searching for this book.

Create a table of contents

Before you start writing your book, you need to create an outline or table of contents. Consider what your readers will want to learn and put the information in an order that will help them gain the knowledge quickly.

Next it will help you to write down paragraph summaries for each chapter. Ask yourself, Why do I feel a certain subject deserves a spot in my book?

Once you have this written, note the subheadings for each chapter. Think about the best way to break up the chapter, so that people can easily understand and apply the information you are giving them.

Write and write and write

The next step is where some people fall off. You must roll up your sleeves and write and write and write. Make regular progress and do not allow too many breaks between writing sessions.

It might help to keep a log of how many words you write each day. Make a game of it! Create a target. See if you can write something each day, setting a minimum number of words to be written, such as 500 words per day?

Do not edit as you write, just get all the information out of your mind and onto paper (or your word processing document). There will be time to edit later.

Ebooks can be any length these days, but shoot for 50,000 words if you can. That will be around two hundred pages.

If that’s too much, go for a mini-ebook.

Hire an editor or ask your friends to read your book

After you finish your first draft you can go through and polish and edit. You’ll catch a lot of errors on your own, improving the manuscript through this process, but most writers need a second set of eyes on their work.

You may need to hire an editor. If you don’t have the money, try asking a few friends to read over your manuscript, looking for errors and typos.  The more people you can get to read it, the better.

Don’t worry too much about learning how to write a nonfiction book. Just get out there and start writing. I bet you have a specialized area of knowledge that people want to know about. Start writing and don’t allow yourself to stop until you’re done!

Additional articles you might find helpful:

How Much Does It Cost To Hire A Ghostwriter?

Writing a Book Proposal

Do you need help writing a book?

Working with a Ghostwriter – What steps should you take?

Laura Sherman (97 Posts)

Laura Sherman, a.k.a. “Laura the Friendly Ghostwriter,” is a professional ghostwriter and author. She enjoys writing fiction and nonfiction and is happiest when juggling multiple projects. She recently authored “Chess Is Child’s Play” to introduce the next generation to the game of kings and queens. As a parent of three, and one of the top 50 women chess players in the United States, Laura wrote this book to teach any parent to teach any child, of any age, to play chess.